California Jury Wrong on Glyphosate

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture September 12, 2018

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By Gene Hall, APR, FEL

Does our justice system always get it right? No. That’s why there are appeals courts.

A jury in California recently got one very wrong. They awarded hundreds of millions of dollars (much of which would wind up in the pockets of trial lawyers) to an individual who alleged that his cancer was caused by glyphosate. This despite scientific studies showing glyphosate is not a carcinogen. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes, when you throw a lot of emotion at a jury, they can take their eyes off the facts and the science.

The unfortunate truth is that sometimes, when you throw a lot of emotion at a jury, they can take their eyes off the facts and the science.

San Francisco Superior Court heard the case of a man with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which he believes was caused by the weedkiller glyphosate. He used the chemical routinely on his job.

Reams of studies show conclusively that glyphosate is safe.

This chemical replaces many others that are far more toxic. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute investigated cancer incidence among nearly 45,000 licensed pesticide applicators exposed to glyphosate. They found no evidence linking it with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or other cancers. That’s “no” as in zero.

Juries are an important safeguard in our system of justice, but they can’t alter science. The army of lawyers lined up to cash in on this mistake understand if you can’t win on the science, go with fear and emotion.

Gene Hall is director of communications at Texas Farm Bureau. This column was originally published as a “Your Texas Agriculture Minute” commentary. 

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